In a blow to the 11 policemen whose life sentence was suspended for a period of six months by Maharashtra government, the Bombay High Court on Monday granted an interim stay on the suspension order and directed them to surrender by January 4.
The state government had last month passed an order by which it suspended for six months the life sentence imposed on 11 policemen convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for the fake encounter of alleged Chhota Rajan gang member Ramnarayan Gupta alias Lakhanbhaiya in November 2006.
Lakhanbhaiya was shot dead allegedly by the policemen in suburban Versova. The 11 policemen were released from jail on December 3. Lakhanbhaiya’s brother Ramprasad Gupta, a practising advocate, approached the high court challenging the government’s decision and terming it as “illegal, null, void, bad in law, perverse, unreasonable, arbitrary, cryptic, vague and liable to be quashed and set aside.”
A division bench of justices R V More and V L Achiliya on Monday heard the petitioner’s advocate Yug Choudhary, the policemen’s counsel Girish Godbole and prosecutor Usha Kejriwal at length.
“The government cannot take such decision of suspension in a case where a public servant has been convicted on a charge punishable with death. Such a suspension amounts to release of a convict from prison,” Justice More said.
“There are hundreds of prisoners who are suffering from serious medical ailments. The government should consider their cases also for such suspension of sentence orders,” Justice Achiliya said.
The court, while admitting the petition, granted stay on the suspension order and directed the policemen to surrender by January 4. The petition has been posted for further hearing on March 7. A sessions court had earlier convicted 21 people in the case, including the 11 policemen, and awarded them life imprisonment, while acquitting only encounter specialist Pradip Sharma in July 2013.